Shear joy for some small traders, others demand more uniform rules

A number of small retailers have questioned COVID-19 restrictions that stop their business from reopening for at least a fortnight while hairdressers have been allowed to return to work.

Barbers and salons across the city were booming on Monday, with one owner of stores in the city’s west reporting waits of between two and four hours.

Shagun Oberoi (left) at Just Cuts in Werribee. Credit:Penny Stephens

“People are flowing in but it’s the first day and people haven’t had a haircut for weeks,” said Shagun Oberoi, director of Just Cuts stores at Werribee Plaza, Point Cook and Tarneit.

Customers in the barber’s chair on Monday had to wear a mask, as did their hairdresser, and limited numbers were able to enter salons because of social distancing rules. Magazines were also gone because of their high-touch surfaces.

Disinfecting chairs and ensuring proper sanitation between cuts was making things take slightly longer. “But safety is important, and the clients appreciate it," Ms Oberoi said.

In Albert Park, barbers Saint 157 were cutting from the moment the doors opened. “The phone’s been going mad,” said barber Lewis Maitland. “I’m fairly booked out from 9am until 9pm tonight, and I haven’t had a lunch break.”

While the hairdressing industry rejoiced, other businesses expressed frustration that their doors remained shut while an increasing number of other retailers opened.

Francis Stewart is a co-owner of Bob Stewart, which specialises in school uniforms and has stores across Melbourne, including in Kew, Bentleigh and Albert Park.

“It’s our main customer base that you’re seeing in the greengrocers or the Woolworths or Coles in the same area, and they can trade safely and we’re not permitted to trade,” Mr Stewart said.

Until all retail reopens on November 2, businesses such as Bob Stewart are relying on click-and-collect. In normal times, Bob Stewart's online shopping is 10 per cent of its trade – not 100 per cent.

It had put incredible pressure on the store’s sales systems, Mr Stewart said. “Especially for students, you’re hitting a moving target because they keep growing. It’s very hard to get the exact sizing right. We’ve had returns and people want to ring and ask about sizes.”

Mr Stewart said while the store helped as many customers as possible, the sheer volume of orders made it intense. “I think one day we had 750 online orders to process in Kew.”

Tim Smith, state Liberal MP for Kew, said the rules were “entirely inconsistent” and all retailers needed to be allowed to open immediately. “I can get my hair cut, walk down the street and go to the fruit shop, go and buy a coffee, and yet I can’t walk into Bob Stewart’s and buy a pair of socks,” he said.

Small Business Australia Bill Lang executive director said smaller retailers were under incredible strain.

“The JB Hi-Fis, the Kmarts, the Targets, they’ve got all this infrastructure to do pickups, and so the big corporate chains are picking up market share at the expense of the smaller retailers.”

The Australian Medical Association warned against pushing for the easing of restrictions earlier than the Andrews government already had in place.

Melbourne needed to open slowly and carefully because it was such an uncertain period, Victorian president Julian Rait said, and because of continuing concerns over the state's contact tracing abilities.

“No other jurisdictions – with a few notable exceptions like South Korea – have pulled back from a second wave and brought cases down so quickly,” Mr Rait said. “We are kind of in uncharted territory. If you open up too quickly you could get a third wave after Christmas.”

A government spokesman said businesses allowed to open on Monday did so based on public health advice, and also included car washes and outdoor maintenance.

"The timeline for the opening of other businesses in the retail, hospitality and personal care services is based on the current advice of our public health team,” he said, adding there was a chance the November 2 timetable could still be brought forward.

"If we are in a position to safely move earlier, we will.”

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World News

Andrews offers ‘small doses of hope’ to state craving more

Top epidemiologists and business groups are critical of what they say is the Andrews government’s overly cautious approach to easing restrictions, given the state’s single-digit infections.

Deakin University epidemiologist Catherine Bennett, writing in The Age with three fellow epidemiologists, described the latest steps out of lockdown as "very conservative" and "containing inherent inequities" and questioned why some industries remained shuttered. "There is as yet little understanding of the broader impacts of public health decisions, including mental health, economic and financial strain," the epidemiologists wrote in an opinion article.

Business groups, including the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group and Restaurant & Catering Australia expressed frustration at the delay until November 2 of a reopening of most businesses, although the Australian Retailers Association said a timeline would come as relief.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday sought to provide a more certain path out of lockdown, dumping the previous case number targets and announcing some key easing of restrictions, including no limit on time outdoors, a 25-kilometre travel bubble rather than the previous five kilometres and outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people from two households.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has urged Melburnians to stay put a while longer — including on grand final day.Credit:Wayne Taylor

Mr Andrews expressed confidence that Melbourne’s restrictions would further ease by November 2 and potentially, a week earlier, with the reopening of retail and limited indoor dining. At that time, households will be able to receive visits from up to two adults and their dependants.

An immediate, further easing of restrictions was announced for regional Victoria, with pubs and restaurants allowed to seat up 40 people inside and 70 outside, and people can invite visitors in small numbers to their homes.

"There is some optimism, a confidence even, that if things continue this week the way they have the last five days, we may be able to bring that forward," Mr Andrews said. "No rules, no restrictions will be on longer than they need to be. I know it is frustrating, I know there is a lot of pain out there in the community."

He said raw case numbers were less important as infections declined, with the emphasis shifting to the types of cases, how they were contracted, and how many were "mystery" cases. Only three new COVID-19 cases in as many days have been recorded in Victoria.

Business groups expressed disappointment at the limited changes announced on Sunday, warning more businesses would fail.

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said: “This is an inexplicable and unacceptable delay for Victorians and small businesses who are hanging on by a day, not a week."

"There is no sound reason to continue the restrictions on business, especially with case numbers clearly on a downward trajectory. People desperately need the ability now to get on with their lives and businesses."

Tim Piper, the Victorian chief of the Australian Industry Group, a peak national employer organisation, described Sunday’s measures as “plodding steps’’ in the right direction.

The chief executive of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Paul Guerra, welcomed the "good news" about a timetable for restrictions to be eased, but warned that "as every day goes by that they are closed, more business owners will not recover for business".

The provisional reopening date for retail was welcomed by Australian Retailers Association chief Paul Zahra. "Whilst this date is many weeks later than we would have hoped, it is just in time for the official start of the Christmas shopping period and a very welcome news for retailers who have been desperately seeking clarity for months," he said.

The boss of one of the nation's largest retailers, Wesfarmers chief executive Rob Scott, questioned the logic of some of the changes.

"It’s still difficult to understand the rationale for some of the changes and ongoing business restrictions, from a public health and wellbeing perspective. For example, you can go to the hairdresser or a skate park and have more freedom to travel, but you can’t go to your local Bunnings Warehouse.'" Wesfarmers owns Bunnings stores.

With people still required to only leave home for permitted reasons, Mr Andrews urged everyone to watch Saturday's AFL grand final between Richmond and Geelong from their own loungerooms.

Richmond fans celebrated with their team in Adelaide.Credit:Getty Images

"As important as it is, in a cultural sense, in a very passionate way, for every single football fan across our state, it is not worth risking all that we have done, all that we have built, all that we can do in just a few days' time by having gatherings that are unsafe."

Aside from a reopening from today of hairdressing salons and some small-scale industries such as car washing and pet grooming and the return of real estate auctions, there is no change to the restrictions on retail, hospitality and other industries.

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said Sunday’s announcement should have gone further. "I think at some point the Premier does have to learn to trust the people of this state instead of just trying to impose rules on us and treat us like children all the time," he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in a joint statement issued with Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, welcomed the reduced COVID-19 caseload in Victoria but said the lockdown had come at a heavy cost.

Professor Patrick McGorry said the “small doses of hope” offered by Sunday’s announcements would help Victoria’s mental health.Credit:Eddie Jim

"There’s a sense of relief now."

Melbourne lord mayor Sally Capp said the Premier had provided "some certainty" to city traders. "We have saved lives – now we need to save livelihoods,"’ she said. "Businesses across our city are prepared to re-open in a COVID safe way.’"

The response from restaurant and cafe owners was less positive. Under the adjusted road map, restaurants which reopen in two week’s time will be limited to 10 patrons per indoor dining area. Leading restaurateur Chris Lucas said this would make it uneconomical for most eateries to trade.

Chris Lucas, pictured here in his Melbourne CBD restaurant Chin Chin, says it won’t be viable for most restaurants to reopen under the Victorian government’s 10-patron cap.Credit:Arsineh Houspian

"It doesn’t take into account the commercial requirements," Mr Lucas told The Age. "Based on the information we have been given today the majority of restaurants in the Melbourne metropolitan area will not be opening."

Restaurant & Catering Australia chief executive Wes Lambert said the contrast in NSW, where restaurants can seat up to 300 people indoors and daily COVID-19 case numbers were tracking above those in Victoria, was now stark.

"I have spoken to many restaurateurs and they are angry but optimistic," he said. "They are angry that metropolitan Melbourne is not opening tomorrow as the case numbers are lower than NSW, which has a nearly fully reopened hospitality industry. They are hopeful and optimistic that the date is going to be brought forward."

NSW, which has a less centralised public health response, has managed to contain outbreaks since lifting its lockdown in May. Social and economic life in Sydney has reached COVID-normal, with few restrictions remaining in place.

Mr Hunt tweeted shortly before Sunday’s announcement that Victoria’s low daily case numbers provided the necessary conditions for it to move safely in line with NSW. Mr Andrews said while his decisions were based on public health advice, Mr Hunt’s intervention was driven by politics.

"I don’t accept that anybody has a more complete picture of what this virus is doing in Victoria than the Victorian Chief Health Officer, the Victorian Deputy Chief Health Officer, the Victorian Health Minister and the Victorian Premier and a cast of many hundreds of other experts and people who are dedicated to this task," Mr Andrews said.

He said further announcements would be made about the Melbourne Cup, but sources familiar with the matter said it was likely any crowd at Flemington would be limited to jockeys, trainers and owners of the horses.

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World News

A small town in Texas unites for justice for Jonathan Price after police kill ‘an amazing person’

Jonathan Price was considered a hometown hero in the Wolfe City community. In the small East Texas town about 70 miles from Dallas, Price, 31, was a motivational speaker, a mentor to student-athletes in the area and a frequent participant in community service activities. He worked for the city as a maintenance contractor and was a personal trainer on the side. His dream was to open his own gym. 

But that dream ended with Price’s death on Oct. 3. Price, a Black man, was shot and killed by a white police officer after witnesses said he broke up a fight between a man and a woman at a gas station.

“He was there breaking up a domestic fight between a couple, which is something that I know he was always standing up for the right thing,” Case Roundtree, a childhood friend of Price, told Yahoo News. “That’s not uncommon for him.”

In the aftermath, this mostly white town of 1,500 has been brought together in mourning for a man many knew and adored. The community has also given itself the kind of self-examination about race relations and policing that much bigger cities have been facing this year.  

The alleged confrontation was over by the time Wolfe City Police Officer Shaun Lucas arrived at the gas station. The entire interaction between Price and Lucas was captured on a body camera, according to an affidavit released Wednesday, written by a Texas Ranger. That footage has not been released.

According to the affidavit, Price greeted Lucas upon his arrival. Price asked the officer “you doing good” several times and extended his hand for a handshake. Price also apologized for broken glass on the ground, telling the officer someone had tried “to wrap me up.”

Lucas, 22, thought Price appeared intoxicated and tried to detain him, according to the affidavit. Price said, “I can’t be detained” as Lucas grabbed at his arm. As Price began to walk away, Lucas shot him with his Taser. Price turned back toward the officer and appeared to reach out to grab the end of the stun gun, according to the affidavit. 

Lucas then fired four rounds from his handgun, striking Price in the upper torso. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney representing Price’s family, said on Facebook that he was told Price raised his hands and tried to explain what was going on when the officer arrived. “Police fired tasers at him and when his body convulsed from the electrical current, they ‘perceived a threat’ and shot him to death,” wrote Merritt.

Two days after the shooting, Lucas was charged with murder in the killing of Price. In a statement Monday, the Texas Rangers said that Price “resisted in a non-threatening posture and began walking away,” and that the officer’s actions weren’t “reasonable.” Lucas remains jailed Friday on $1 million bond. 

Lucas’s attorney, John Snider, has said that the officer “only discharged his weapon in accordance with Texas law when he was confronted with an aggressive assailant who was attempting to take” his stun gun.

On Thursday, Lucas was fired from the police department. A statement from Wolfe City said he was terminated for “his egregious violation” of city and police department policies.

Emotions around town are still high. The Wolfe City community is devastated and angry, but united. 

“Everybody is still upset, but the community is supporting our family,” Derrick Ingram, a nephew of Price, told Yahoo News. “They’re backing us up.”

Since Price’s death there have been several rallies, peaceful protests and candlelight vigils in and around Wolfe City calling for Lucas’s conviction.

“Nothing is going to fully make us feel better,” said Roundtree, 32. “I say ‘us’ as his family, his Wolfe City family. … We would all love to see the verdict come out and [the officer] in jail for the rest of his life so he can ponder on this and think on it and realize what he did. It’s just a terrible thing and it should have never, ever happened.” 

Former Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks grew up with Price in Wolfe City. Shortly after the shooting, Middlebrooks posted to Facebook and Twitter, calling the incident “purely an act of racism.” 

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TV and Movies

'Small Axe: Red, White and Blue' Review: John Boyega's London Cop Tries to Change the System

New York Film Festival 2020: Part of Steve McQueen’s “Small Axe” miniseries, this ’80s-set police drama takes a timely look at reform vs. abolition

Black filmmakers, creators and actors have, for years, worked to portray the gamut of black fatherhood on screen and dispel societal prejudices of the no good, or absentee black father. Here’s a list of just some of the best representations of black fatherhood and father figures on the big screen.

  • Furious Styles (“Boyz n the Hood”) Laurence Fishburne held nothing back, and dropped some serious knowledge as Furious Styles, the father of Cuba Gooding Jr.’s Tre in “Boyz n the Hood.” Whether it was preaching about gentrification and the plight of the crack epidemic or talking Tre down from seeking revenge with a gun, Furious did whatever necessary to ensure his son became a man growing up in the Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles.

    Check here for streaming options.


  • Mr. Jones (“Friday”) The late, great John Witherspoon was known mostly for his exaggerated hilarity — plenty of which unfolds in “Friday” — but as Mr. Jones, the father of Ice Cube’s Craig, he borrows a page out of the book of Furious Styles in a rare heartfelt and crucial lesson on what it means to be a man.

    Check here for streaming options.

    New Line Cinema

  • Rod Tidwell (“Jerry Maguire”) While Tom Cruise’s titular character is busy figuring out what it means to be a winner in life, Rod Tidwell, played by Cuba Gooding Jr., is the consummate family man. While trying to prove he’s worth a new contract, he time and again shows Jerry what it looks like to be a caring, affectionate husband and father. Rod Tidwell puts it all on the line for his family.

    Check here for streaming options.

    Columbia TriStar

  • John Quincy (“John Q”) John Q. pretty much aces the question: How far are you willing to go for your children? Played by Denzel Washington, John Quincy, in an attempt to save his son, who needs a life-saving heart transplant, takes a hospital emergency room hostage after finding out his insurance won’t cover the costs.

    Check here for streaming options.

    New Line Cinema

  • Chris Gardner (“The Pursuit of Happyness”) Based on a true story and starring real-life father and son, Will and Jaden Smith, “The Pursuit of Happyness” follows Chris Gardner as he sacrifices everything in hopes of providing a better life for his son.

    Check here for streaming options.

    Columbia Pictures

  • Dr. Larabee (“Akeelah and the Bee”) Laurence Fishburne plays the father figure, Dr. Joshua Larabee, to Keke Palmer’s Akeelah Anderson when he decides to coach the inner-city student all the way to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Along the way he teaches her much more than how to simply spell words, but the power they have.

    Check here for streaming options.

    Lions Gate Entertainment

  • Monty (“Daddy’s Little Girls”) Idris Elba plays struggling mechanic Monty in Tyler Perry’s “Daddy’s Little Girls,” which defies stereotypes for divorced fathers, and black fathers. Monty, with the help of Gabrielle Union’s Julia, is fighting for custody of his three girls.

    Check here for streaming options.

    Lions Gate Home Entertainment

  • Juan (“Moonlight”) The relationship between young Chiron and Mahershala Ali’s Juan in Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-winning film “Moonlight” is one of pure love and support. Juan becomes a father figure to Little and an important figure in his journey to understand and grapple with his identity. As a drug dealer he’s not without his flaws, but he paints a perfect picture of a complicated man.

    Check here for streaming options.



  • Maverick Carter (“The Hate U Give”) Russell Hornsby’s Mav Carter is a father making sure he arms his children with the tools and knowledge they need not only to survive, but take a stand again police brutality and the gangs ravaging their community. Mav not only makes sure Amandla Stenberg’s Star know’s her rights, what to do when dealing with the cops and the Black Panther’s 10 step program, he’s caring, supportive and by her side through everything.’

    Check here for streaming options.

    20th Century Fox

  • (“Hair Love”) This Oscar-winning animated short film written and directed by Matthew Cherry is the epitome of black love. The film tells the story of a black father for the first time struggling to help his daughter style her hair just the way mama does it.

    Watch the short film here.

  • From “Boyz n the Hood” to “Moonlight,” here are some of the best representations of black fatherhood and father figures in film

    Black filmmakers, creators and actors have, for years, worked to portray the gamut of black fatherhood on screen and dispel societal prejudices of the no good, or absentee black father. Here’s a list of just some of the best representations of black fatherhood and father figures on the big screen.

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